Are you sick of the endless analysis of the national championship game between Auburn and Florida St.? There’s one thing you can be sure of: It will get worse between now and the kickoff on Jan. 6.
The media love to beat these games to death because they know a lot people are looking for an edge that will help them predict the winner. Alas, the bookmakers in Las Vegas are acutely aware of the interest in this game, so they make the betting lines extra tight.
The Auburn–Florida St. game is typical. We like Florida St. in the game, but our handicapping tells us to lay no more than 7 points. The consensus line currently has the Seminoles favored by 8.5, with nobody offering less than 7.5 points. Unless a lot of so-called smart money is bet on Auburn at the last minute to drive the line down, pass on this game. (As the old-time bookies would say, “Don’t eat the chalk.”)
Instead of obsessing about the point spread in the big game, focus on lesser bowls that offer better opportunities to make some money. We have found six such bets and offer them for your consideration. The handicapping methods used to make the following selections produced a record of 41-25 (62 percent) on sides and 46-25 (65 percent) for totals this college season:
Louisiana Lafayette (+1.5) over Tulane (Dec. 21): This will be the last college game for Joe Montana’s son, Nick, the quarterback at Tulane, and it won’t be a winner.
Northern Illinois (-1.5) over Utah St. (Dec. 26): The Huskies lost out on a BCS bowl game and their QB, Jordan Lynch, finished third among the Heisman finalists. Both think they have something to prove.
Marshall (-2.5) over Maryland (Dec. 27): The Terps were actually ranked in the top 25 earlier this season, but soon proved that sports writers don’t know what they’re doing.
Syracuse/Minnesota over 47.5 points (Dec. 27): These aren’t great offenses, but neither team plays much defense.
Cincinnati (+3) over North Carolina (Dec. 28): The Bearcats were able to overcome the loss of their best offensive player to have a good season. I just can’t get excited about the Tar Heels.
Arkansas St./Ball St. over 64 points (Jan. 5): Start the New Year by cashing a winner, then finger your bankroll while you watch the championship game.
NOTE: The point spreads and totals listed above are the consensus Las Vegas numbers from VegasInsider.com at 8 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 20. The numbers will change between now and game time, but barring injuries to key players, won’t move enough to change my selections.