2016 College Football Season Results
I finished the 2016 regular season with 6 winning weeks in the final 7 weeks after losing a lot of close games early in the season. I was just 4-4 on my Bowl Game Best Bets (6-5 on a Star basis) while my Bowl Strong Opinions were 5-1 and my Bowl leans were 14-10.
I was 26-15 on Best Bets from week 8 on and finished with a profit of +14.2 Stars for the season. The difference between the first half of the season and the second half of the season is that I lost an extreme majority of the toss-up games the first 7 weeks of the season (5-15 on Best Bets decided by 7 points or less) and I was a more reasonable 7-8 on close games from week 8 on while going 26-15 on my Best Bets. All I need to do to win is to win about half of the toss-up games and I finished the 2016 College Football season with a solid profit of +14.2 Stars despite being just 12-23 on Best Bets decided by 7 points or fewer (rather than being close to 50% on such games as expected in the long run).
2016 Season Recap:
Despite my poor start due to losing 75% of the close games in the first half of the season, I still ended with a decent record of 42-36 on my Best Bets for the season (40-32 on sides and 2-4 on totals) and 74-62 on a Star Basis for +5.2 Stars (including -0.6 in extra juice). I also had another great record on my season win totals (6-2 for +9.0 Stars, see below), which put my overall profit for the season at +14.2 Stars. That’s not a great season but I feel my level of handicapping was very good given that I was solidly profitable even with horrible luck on close games.
I was handicapping at a profitable level early in the season but it wasn’t showing up on my record because I was just 5-15 on close games those first 7 weeks. I was 26-15 on my Best Bets from week 8 on because I’ve stopped losing 75% of the toss-up games. I told you then that my bad record was just bad luck and not bad handicapping and those that kept the faith in my handicapping profited.
I was still just 12-23 on games decided by 7 points or fewer this season (30-13 on Best Bets decided by more than 7 points), but using the record in close games is not the best way to judge the variance in my handicapping. After all, I could have a loss to the spread by 1 point in which my team was out-gained by 200 yards but was +3 in fumbles (random) to keep it close. A game like that is a game I would have deserved to have lost regardless of how close it was to covering (or if such a game did win).
The best way to gauge the variance is by grading the games as I do each week, by deserved and undeserved wins and losses and by toss-up wins and losses. If I have a 7 point favorite that is out-gained by 100 yards but is +3 in fumble margin (random) and wins by 10 points that is a game I deserved to lose and is graded as such. Over the years my actual record and my graded record are the same. I once had consecutive seasons in which my College Football Best Bets were 105-54-3 for 66.0% winners, but my graded record over those two seasons was 61%. I wasn’t suddenly a 66% handicapper – I was just winning a majority of toss-up games and had more lucky wins than unlucky losses in those two seasons.
In 2016 I had 39 games in which I was on the right side (i.e. a deserved win), but I lost 4 of those games (Oklahoma vs Texas, Michigan vs Wisconsin, ULM vs Texas State, and UMass +30 vs BYU). I had 19 games in which I clearly had the wrong side and I was 0-19 on those games (no lucky wins). I had 20 games that I’ve graded as toss-up games and I was just 7-13 on those 20 toss-up games.
I was just 42-36 on my Best Bets this season (48-38 if you include my season win totals) but my handicapping was much better than that, as I’d have been 49-29 if I had won the 39 games in which I clearly had the right side, lost the 19 games in which I was clearly on the wrong side and split the 20 toss-up games.
I had 72 Best Bet sides and I only lost 11 of them by more than 7 points, which is one of the lowest percentages in that category I’ve ever had. My average line differential (how many points a bet wins or loses by) on those 72 Best Bets was +3.8 points, which would equate to 61% long term, and is probably the best indicator of my handicapping level. I’ll continue to win at a good rate as long as I win the games I deserve to win, lose the games I deserve to lose and split the toss-up games.
My Strong Opinions were 35-26-2 for the season and are a profitable 609-528-12 lifetime. Those that look at the free analysis every Saturday morning might have noticed that my predicted differences from the line of 4 points or more (historically good) was 119-83-3 this season, which is another indication that my model is working well overall.
My season win total bets finished up at 6-2 for +9.0 Stars. The wins (all 2-Stars) are on Notre Dame Under 9 ½ wins, Marshall Under 9 wins, Maryland over 4.5 wins (1.5 Stars on that one), Michigan State Under 8 (at +120 odds), Florida International Under 5.5 wins and Memphis Over 6 ½ wins (at +115 odds). The two losses were -2.2 Stars on Ohio and -1.0 Stars on Tulsa Under 6.5 wins (at +110). My season win totals are now 16-3 the last 4 seasons and 29-12 lifetime. I think I’ll release the season win totals earlier next season as the last two years I would have profited even more had I bet the early lines.
Currently, I’m going through a multi-year period in which my actual record isn’t nearly as good as it should be (i.e. my graded record) because I’ve lost most toss-up games (13-26 the last two years) and had very few lucky wins (only 1 the last two seasons compared to 6 undeserved losses). The last two seasons I am just 23-43-2 on Best Bets decided by 7 points or fewer and 65-36 on Best Bets decided by more than 7 points. In 2014 I was -37 fumble margin on my Best Bet sides, which is by far the worst fumble luck I’ve had in 29 years.
Some may think the last few seasons are an indication that my model doesn’t work anymore but my math model has actually continued to be very good overall and it’s just random that I’ve had 3 consecutive seasons of negative variance on my Best Bets (one in fumble margin and two in toss-up games) – although my Best Bets sides have still been pretty good despite the bad luck on close games (77-64-2 the last two seasons). I have had my share of positive variance seasons, which led to high win percentages and a lot of profit, but all I’m asking for is a season that is even in fumbles and 50% on close games so I can have a winning percentage that reflects my level of handicapping – which is still very good. After 3 negative luck seasons I expect the future to be more profitable than the recent pass – assuming my luck is neutral.
Ultimately, I’ll start winning at the level of my handicapping, and the last half of the 2016 season is an example of what happens when I don’t lose nearly every toss-up game.
I am still 55% winners and +218.4 Stars of profit on my College Football Best Bets since 1999 and I expect to be profitable going forward.