I hate gambling. Well, not really. I love gambling. It’s entrancing. Like a puzzle that you almost have figured out, but that one last piece is always a finger-length away. Following spreads, over/under, money lines, and prop bets can reel in even the most devout Jesuit. It’s a science forged by blue-collar bookies and perfected by Las Vegas algorithms.
But here’s the thing: I hate losing money. My hatred for losing money supersedes any fun that comes from gambling. I never enjoy the high of winning money as much as I grovel when losing.
Knowing as much, my editors have assigned me the task of betting the weekly lines for Gamedayr. What a bunch of sadists. This first game is already ripping my guts out. Allow me to explain.
I grew up favoring two colleges: UF and UNC. UF because my proximity to Gainesville and Steve Spurrier. UNC because of family ties and the beauty of Dean Smith’s program. I love both schools dearly.
Here’s a history lesson. In 2004 Steve Spurrier was a free agent and UNC football was apathetic. There was speculation that if UNC finished under .500 they would fire coach John Bunting. Word on the street had Spurrier as choice numero uno to take over. He had experience coaching in the ACC – with Duke – admired UNC’s famed athletic tradition, and loved the state of North Carolina’s numerous top-notch golf courses.
Heading into Halloween weekend the Heels were 3-4. What happened next? Well, they knocked off No. 4 Miami, en route to winning three of the next four games. Administrators felt they couldn’t fire a coach who just rallied the team to a bowl game and was an alumnus to boot.
UNC kept Bunting on for two more seasons. Spurrier went to border rival South Carolina — apparently they have good golf courses, too. This young man crumbled because his favorite football coach neither returned home to UF nor created an ACC dynasty at UNC. So here we are in 2013 and I feel like a divorced child stuck in the middle of my long-time idols. This is unpleasant.
When betting this game, there are only two things you need to know.
Number one: Since Steve Spurrier has been at South Carolina, he has covered the spread .574 percent of the time. That’s tied for second in the SEC with Nick Saban, and just slightly behind Bobby Petrino.
Number Two: South Carolina has won 13 straight season openers. To put that in perspective, Jedeveon Clowney was seven years old the last time the ‘Cocks lost on opening day.
Gamecocks (-11) take UNC (+11) to the woodshed as this writer wonders “what if.”
UNLV (+14) over Minnesota (-14): UNLV lost this same game in Triple OT last year. Take the points.
Tulsa (+3 ½) over Bowling Green (-3 ½): I really don’t like the state of Ohio, and BG is favored only because they’re at home. Don’t sleep on Tulsa.
UCF (-21 ½) over Akron (+21 ½): I hate UCF and that damn U-C-F UC-F UCF UCFUCFUCF chant that they ripped off from the NY Jets. But damned if Akron isn’t awful. Sorry, Zippy. I want to pick you, but, well, I’m trying to stack some paper.
Utah St. (+3) over Utah (-3): Utah State plays teams tough. I like their style. Utah may be a little overrated because of name value. Not saying the Aggies win outright, but I’ll take those points all day and all night.
Vandy (+3) over Ole Miss (-3): How is Vandy a home dog? Did I miss something (pun not intended)? Recruiting classes don’t win games, but they apparently help set lines. Take the points, take the outright, take the money line, and thank me in the morning.
Fresno St. (-10) over Rutgers (+10): This is starting to feel like picking a bracket. Apparently a bunch of people in the Coaches Poll think Fresno St. has potential. That’s good enough for me.
USC (-22) over Hawaii (+22): Whatever happened to Colt Brennan? Exactly.