Betting on college football can be weird. Sure things can turn into disasters, and long shots can turn into huge paydays simply because of a garbage-time touchdown with 20 seconds left in a minuscule game. So many of us follow college football lines; the bravest/dumbest/richest/poorest of us even dare to actually place money on them. But no matter if you are a betting man/woman or not, many of us who follow college football closely are usually interested to see what "the line is" when it opens, and when game time nears.
I only started really paying attention to the betting lines on MSU games and other national games of importance a few years ago, but the one thing I've noticed in that short amount of time is that I've been wrong quite a bit. Thankfully I'm not a guy who wagers money, so my inaccuracies have not cost me "bank". Yet I still can't help but be amazed at the men out there who do find ways to even turn this sort of guessing/prognosticating into a career.
One of the things I saw the other day -- I think it was either on Sixpack or EliteDawgs -- was a fellow MSU fan talking about how you shouldn't bet on MSU this season. I didn't catch the rest of the context of the conversation, but that bit caught my eye, because I specifically remembered telling a friend just recently that MSU's Bowling Green game was the reason I don't gamble at all. I would have bet my house if I were a degenerate gambler that MSU would cover a measly 10 point spread over the MAC-based Falcons, and they nearly did, if they had, ya know, another nine points on the board when things were said and done. So with that jarring of my memory, I wanted to take a quick look at how MSU has fared this season against the spread. We all know our Bulldogs haven't had the greatest season ever at 4-4, but how have they performed against the spread? It turns out, actually worse (odds via Oddsshark):
Did MSU cover/beat
|L | 3-21 (18 points)
|W | 51-7 (44 points)
|L | 20-24 (4 points)
|W | 62-7 (55 points)
|L | 26-59 (33 points)
|W | 21-20 (1 point)
|W | 28-22 (6 points)
|L | 16-34 (18 points)
Sheesh. Not only has State struggled in losses versus Oklahoma State, LSU, and South Carolina, but the Bulldogs haven't been able to cover or beat the spread in five of their eight games this season, including the last four in a row. That includes that Bowling Green game I mentioned in the opening; you know, the one that was a "sure thing". That sure thing turned out to be a squeaked-out one point home win, and a game I would have lost my money on.
Even of the games MSU did cover or beat the spread for, Alcorn State and Troy would have been games I might have shied away from betting on anyways. Potential-blowout games like Alcorn State where the spread is huge are always problems, because a garbage-time touchdown could cost you, the gambler, lots of money. With Troy, I was worried that MSU -- coming off a hugely disappointing loss at Auburn -- was primed for a letdown. Boy, did they do everything the opposite to prove me wrong of that theory, which in turn proved me right in another theory: college football can be unpredictable.
So what am I saying all this to ultimately say? That gambling is a crapshoot (/slaps own knee). Seriously, you never know what you'll get when teams take the field, and it seems that MSU's efforts in comparison to the lines through eight games seem to echo that sentiment as well.
Keep rooting for the Bulldogs this season, but maybe keep those bills in your wallet the rest of the way out.