Say you’re an obsessive college football neckbeard who buys Phil Steele’s magazine in June. Hey a wait a minute, thats me! Ok, lets say you’re also the type of fan who looks to put a little money on some of these games. Whoa, again, thats me.
Alright, so how do you go about condenscing all the information and theories Steele weaves together and mine enough winners to net a profit? What’s the point of rushing to the bookstore the day the “most accurate preseason magazine the last 10 years” hits hte stands if you cant use it to win money?
One thing I do is focus on his most improved teams. Typically this is a list of 20 or so teams that he thinks will make a significant, important leap in the standings. According to Steele, virtually all of the teams that has made list since he’s been doing it have equalled or improved their record from the last season. Most striking is that 136 teams on his MIT lists failed to have a winning season the previous season, yet 84 of them (just a shade shy of two out of every three) notched bowl eligibility. With that kind of nose for surprise and off the radar teams, there’s got to be plenty of ways to use that information to your advantage.
One would be to take a look at season win totals and bet the Over on teams from Steele’s list. That strategy looks good on paper, but it has some flaws. A lot of these teams are non-BCS clubs and it’s hard to find places with win totals on those teams. So, you effectively eliminate half his list as possible profit turners.
The other problem arises with teams on his list like UCLA and Michigan. The Bruins won four games last year, but their win total mark was set at 6.5 The step required for Michigan to go over is wider. After a 3-win season, Michigan O/U mark is set at 7. However, there is plenty of room for both these schools to get checked in the win column for Steele’s MIT list, but still lose any Over bet wagered.
Instead, I like to keep this list handy at all times (mostly, so I dont forget who is on it) and bet on these teams when they are catching points. In the last three years, underdogs on this list have gone 223-189-11 with three straight winning records. Those numbers in sequence dont look all that sexy, but this adds up to 55 percent winners. If you’re betting $100 a game and win 55 out of 100 bets, you will be clearing $500 in profit. Thats not too shabby.
With those numbers, you can pretty much go ahead and bet these teams on the blind every time they appear on the board, add them to your weekly card and over the long haul of the season, they will add to whatever profit you have already been otherwise making. I’m also confident that the previous sample size mixed with ongoing evidence from the 2009 season will reveal plays with a higher historical success rate than 55 percent that will evolve into something akin to a best play. So we’ll keep digging into these numbers and update accordingly.
With that said, here are this year’s Steele’s MIT teams: Illinois, Ohio, UCLA, Michigan, UTEP, NC State, Arkansas, Colorado, Tennessee, Akron, Baylor, Kansas State, Auburn, UNLV, Stanford, Temple, Toledo, Marhsall, San Diego State, Southern Methodist, Louisiana-Monroe and Central Florida.
That’s 22 teams to track. More than likely there is horse or two on the list that you can ride all season long. While waiting for those teams to reveal themselves, we have no problem playing all the underdogs on this list in Week One and doing out best to maintain that course through November. Let’s go ahead and grab the Steele’s MIT underdogs in Week One for a single unit for a portion of this week’s card. For the most part, it puts us on the side of some heavy underdogs. Here’s a quick look:
Akron +27 at Penn State, noon, BTN. E-Fact: The Zips are 7-3 ATS against BCS foes the last four years. They have virtually everyone back on offense including a third-year starter at QB, a deep WR unit and cohesive offense line with four starters back from a year ago. They need to establish a tailback, but among the prospects is redshirt freshmen DeVoe Torrence , originally an OSU recruit who is the highest rated recruit Akron has even inked. I’m tuning into this game mostly to see this kid’s impact. With Buffalo’s James Starks out for the season with a knee injury, this guru approved kid might develop into the league’s best back. At the very least, his legs could be enough to tip the balance of the divisional race to Akron. Keep an eye on how much a part of the gameplan he will be.
As far as this game goes, its entirely possible that Zip QB Chris Jacquemaine can hit on enough plays with his experienced WR core going against the rebuilt Lion secondary and score a couple touchdowns. Akron’s returning talent up front and in their own secondary might be enough defensively to keep PSU from exploding as they break in raw playmakers downfield and a shuffled offensive line in the opener. I could see this ending in something close to the 34-16 score these clubs played too in 2006.
Toledo +11 at Purdue, noon, BTN. I wont lie. I dont see what Steele sees in Toledo. Are we still holding out hope that Aaron Opelt turns to corner and suddenly becomes an All MAC QB? Or that a stingy defense finally takes form in the Glass Bowl?
A lot of folks like Steele, however, trend towards teams that return as intact as Toledo, which has 18 starters returning and 89 percent of their total letter winners from a year ago. Steele has concocted his own formula involving a triumverate of lettermen returning, starters returning and QB experience. The Rockets fall in a spot where historically over the last decade close to 90 percent of the teams equalled or improved their record from the previous season.
Maybe they do have a puncher’s chance, then, in this battle. All five starters return on the offensive line, and they will open holes for perhaps the best set of tailbacks in their league. That alone will allow them to move the ball successfully against the Boilermakers who I will consider soft up front until proven otherwise. Defensively, Toledo wasnt great last year. And thats being kind. But, they do have eight starters back and claim to be more in synch with one another this season. Here is hoping we see signs of that against a Boiler team breaking in a new quarterback.
Baylor +2 at Wake, 3:30, ABC. I plan on writing more in depth about this one later in the week because this game intrigues me on many levels. Lots of folks expect Baylor and Robert Griffith to be a Cinderella team and finally break their bowl drought. This is a chance to get in on the magic carpet ride early. However, it does put me against Deacon Coach Jim Grobe, a coach I love to be bet on. I hope fading him in opening week doesnt open up a Pandora’s Box of bad joo-joo for the season.
Ohio +4 vs UConn, 7, ESPN3260. Steele, not only puts the Bobcats on his MIT list, but he also tabbed them to win the wide open MAC East Division. Thats a bold flier to take on a team that won just 4 games a year ago and who the media picked to finish in fourth place in the division. In Boo Jackson We Trust, I suppose. Turnovers killed OU last season with one of the country’s worst TO margins. Elinating the giveaways have been a focus all summer camp with offenders mocked by doing extra sets of sprints. OU has been steady, slightly on the positive side, with regards to TO margin under Solich, so I think this will be corrected given the August focus on the issue. The Cats have always been a solid play in Athens under Solich going 11-6 ATS, 6-3 when catching points. Maybe they catch a Huskie team in transition napping and spring a mild upset.
ULM +40.5 at Texas. No Sugarcoat. This will be ugly. The best I can say about this is if the Warhawks manage to cobble together a touchdown and field goal, then Texas needs to score more than 50 points to beat you. Folks, scoring 50 is not easy, regardless of foe. Then, I notice that the Horns have scored more than 50 in six of theur last seven home games against non BCS foes. Close your eyes and pray.
SDSU +20 at UCLA, 7:30, FSN. I share Steele’s bullishness for the Aztecs. I love their coaching upgrades and returning experience. I think they can make some noise in the middle of the MWC and sneak in enough wins to net bowl eligibility. I also think they can give UCLA a more serious run that people would expect. I have no trouble taking a three-TD head start against a Bruin team that still needs to prove to me it score enough points to win games, let alone cover large numbers. Of all these six games, this might be the one I am the most confident in right now.
It’s obvious I will be waving MAC pom poms everywhere I go opening Saturday, especially if I bite on CMU +12 over Arizona as I am also tempted to do. I have more picks, which we’ll discuss later in the week. Most of which I am more confident in, than the ones above. But, until it proves fatal to my bank, I will be putting the value of my personal minimum bet on each team on Steele’s list when they’re catching points. We’ll see how it treats me in Week One.
Am I crazy? Maybe dont answer that. But, feel free to discuss these games. Evidence geared to talk me out of any pick is, as always, not only welcomed, but encouraged.
ITS GOOD TO HAVE COLLEGE FOOTBALL BACK!!!!!!