:: This is a past article written by Ted Sevransky that appeared in our print edition.
In the past two columns, we have discussed teams that I expect to have strong records against the spread this season, as well as those I expect to fare poorly against the number in both college and the NFL. We’ve also taken a look at some solid opportunities to make a profit over the long term betting NFL season wins over or under the total. In this week’s column, we’ll finally take a look at some actual game recommendations — games that I will be betting myself here in Las Vegas. But I want to preface these picks with a short diatribe on how the ‘revenge angle’ is over-hyped consistently in the media and among bettors. Fading these ‘revenge’ line moves has been a consistent winner in years past, and has really bitten the dust in the early part of the 2002 season.
No angle is more overused than the revenge angle in college football. It seems as if each week, half the teams are in serious revenge situations, and bettors seem to love that angle, betting up the lines on these revenge-minded teams. I’m sure the players do want revenge over teams that beat them in memorable games the previous season. But whether they’ll be able to win those games by margin is a whole different story entirely.
Look at the examples of over hyped revenge games already this season. It started with Fresno State visiting Wisconsin, where they upset the Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium last year. Did Wisconsin gain revenge with a win? Absolutely. Did they cover the spread, which was bet up from 6.5 to 10 by kickoff? Not even close. They got their revenge, and the bettors who supported them did not. Michigan was hyped in revenge mode against Washington. Again, they got their revenge with the win, but never threatened to cover the spread. Last weekend, it was BYU taking on a Hawaii team that ruined their perfect season in 2001. BYU, too, got their revenge with the straight up win, but Hawaii backers took home the cash after the line was bet up from 10.5 to 12.5. Purdue had revenge on their minds when they visited South Bend to take on the Fighting Irish – this line dropped from -7 to -4. Without scoring an offensive TD, Notre Dame got the win and cover. Boston College went to Stanford last year and got embarrassed. They almost got embarrassed at home again last week, before rallying back in the 4th quarter to get the ‘revenge’ win, but bettors who backed them were crushed as the line rose from -7 to -10.
Teams in revenge mode surely want to win, no doubt about it. ‘Win’ is the key word in that sentence, not ‘win by enough of a margin to cover the over-inflated spread’. It’s important to remember that the teams that beat them last year have the talent level to beat them. Even with offseason losses, they still have the talent to compete. There’s no reason to expect a team that won straight up the previous season to get blown out against the same opponent the following year. It wasn’t like Washington, Fresno, Hawaii, Stanford and Notre Dame all became lousy teams overnight. The psychological edge may well have been theirs. Certainly the bettors who played against these revenge line moves walked away with winning tickets.
Best of luck on all your plays this weekend!