2017 College Football Season Results
My 2017 College Football Best Bets were 56-47-2 for the season and 87-77-5 on a Star Basis for +1.75 Stars, which includes the season win totals (even), the -0.5 Stars on the money line play and -0.35 Stars on extra juice.
It was not a good season but it also wasn’t a bad season and I certainly feel like I deserved a better fate given that my 101 Best Bets (excluding the 4 season win totals) combined to beat the line by a total of 229 points, which is an average of +2.3 points, despite my side Best Bets being -9 in fumble margin, which is worth about 36 points. A line differential of +2.3 points would normally equate to a win percentage of 56.1% winners, which is actually what I would have been if I had gone 50% on the close games. I did have a few close wins early in the season but overall I was 11-15-1 on Best Bets decided by less than 7 points, so my luck could have been better. If I’m 13-13-1 on those close games then my record for the season is 58-45-2, which is 56.3% and right around my career win percentage and what my average line differential would predict.
It was a disappointing season given the hot start I had. Part of the reason for the great start was having just 1 unlucky loss in the first 6 weeks of the season (Ball State +11.5 up by 2 points over Western Kentucky with less than a minute left and lose by 12 on a defensive touchdown with seconds remaining). However, I had a number of unfortunate losses down the stretch and just one lucky win all season (Utah State over BYU in week 5 actually won by 16 points as a 3.5 point underdog but was +6 in turnovers and was out-gained by 98 yards, which is why I graded it as a lucky win). I had some wins on toss-up games, as I was 6-6-1 on games I graded as toss-ups, but that one lucky win was countered with 5 losses on games I certainly had the right side in.
I already mentioned that week 4 loss on Ball State, which was probably my unluckiest loss of the season. In week 7 I lost with Texas Tech +7.5 at West Virginia despite the Red Raiders out-gaining WVU 513 yards at 7.1 yards per play to 398 yards at 5.8 yppl. In week 9 I lost the Northern Illinois vs Eastern Michigan Under 47.5 points by just 1/2 a point because of two blocked-punts (one for a touchdown and one that set up a short touchdown drive). It’s rare to lose an under when the teams combine for 21 punts, which was the case in that game. In week 12, Baylor +9.5 failed to cover by 1/2 a point against Iowa State due a -2 in turnovers, including a 4th-quarter fumble on the 1-yard line that would have put them within 3 points had the Baylor player crossed the goal line before fumbling (or at least would have allowed them to kick the game covering field-goal). Baylor got the ball back and marched inside the ISU 25-yard line again, needing a field goal to get within one score and get us the cover, but they turned it over again to basically end the game. And then, of course, Toledo vs Akron in a MAC Championship game. Toledo was up 38-0 despite losing a fumble at the 1-yard line and committed 5 turnovers after having just 10 total turnovers in 12 prior games. Despite that bad luck they were still up by 31 points with a few minutes left before giving up two late touchdowns, one with just seconds left, to win by just 17 points as 20.5 point favorite. That game and the Ball State game both made Scott Van Pelt’s ‘Bad Beats’ segment on SportsCenter. I have never had a game I’ve won make the ‘Bad Beats’ segment and I’ve now had 5 losers earn that illustrious distinction in the past 3 years.
I do full recaps every week and I would absolutely love to talk about how many lucky wins I’ve had. But, I just didn’t have any in the final two months of the season. The fact that I graded a game that covered by 19 1/2 points as a lucky win is evidence that I am more than fair in how I grade each play. If you can think of any others let me know – although I doubt that you can. Overall, I was -4 games in luck and my 56-47-2 record would have been 58-45-2 if I had just won the two games that were featured on Scott Van Pelt’s ‘Bad Beats’ – and an even better 60-43-2 if I was even in luck.
Pointing out the unlucky losses (and the lucky win) is not an excuse for not having as good of a season as we all hoped for but I have without a doubt handicapped at a higher level than my 54.4% win-loss percentage. That is evident by my +2.3 points average line differential (how much I covered by or didn’t cover by), which would result in 56.1% winners over the long run.
I’ve had 3 consecutive seasons of losing more close games than I’ve won, which is my longest such streak of negative luck seasons in my 30 years of public handicapping. But, I did have 3 consecutive positive variance seasons from 2004 to 2006 when I won 62.9% of my College Best Bets over that span (instead of the 60% I should have won) and in the long run I’ll win at the percentage I deserve to win at.
Season Win Totals
My season win totals finished the season 2-1-1 but even on Stars with the two wins being easy with my 2-Star Best Bet on BYU Under 9.5 wins winning by 5.5 wins (BYU went 4-9) and my 1-Star Best Bet on Oregon State Under 5 wins winning by 4 (OSU went 1-11). I got my push on my 3-Star play on Air Force Over 5 wins with Air Force winning by 3 points in their final game. My only loss was a 3-Star loss on Middle Tennessee Over 7 (+112), as the Blue Raiders went 6-5. This play was derailed early in the season with injuries to star quarterback Brent Stockstill and All-American WR Richie James and I have no doubt that the Blue Raiders would have won at least 7 games had Stockstill not been injured. Stockstill played the last 4 games after being forced to come back before he was ready do to a season ending injury to his backup but it was obvious that he’s not throwing the ball like he did in previous seasons. Had MTS won the game against Western Kentucky, as they should have, they would have gotten us our push.
It’s rare that my season win totals aren’t profitable but 2 of my plays were great (BYU and Oregon State Under), Mid Tennessee was a good play derailed by injuries to their two best players, and only Air Force Over was questionable.