Daily Bet: Florida (PK) at Texas A&M (Saturday)

You could look at yesterday’s pick of Pittsburgh plus the points at Cincinnati, see the final score (Cincinnati 34, Pitt 10) and call me (among other things) a complete buffoon. Or you can you can look at the pick, see the results and understand that sometimes short-term losses lead to long-term gains. Here’s my point: Had you not bet Pitt last night, you might not have watched the game. And if you didn’t watch the game, you wouldn’t realize today that Pitt is every bit as god-awful as it looked in its 14-point season-opening home loss to Youngstown State. And without that knowledge, you wouldn’t realize that a lot of money will be made going forward by betting against said god-awful team. Hey, I’m just here to help, folks.

Which brings me to Saturday’s selection on Florida. First off, I know this wasn’t one of my college football recommendations in this week’s “Going for Broke” column, but that will happen on occasion because I have to complete that column by early Tuesday afternoon, leaving three full days to continue studying the Saturday card. And while studying, I found what I think is great value on Florida (even though the odds have dropped from Florida +2½ to a pick-’em). For starters, the Gators have a game under their belt, while Texas A&M’s opener at Louisiana Tech last week was washed out by Hurricane Isaac. True, Florida was sluggish (to say the least) in last week’s 27-14 win over Bowling Green, tallying fewer points (27) than the spread they were projected to cover (28). And true, this is Texas A&M’s first SEC game in front of its home crowd. However, the Aggies, under first-year coach Kevin Sumlin, will be unveiling new schemes on both sides of the ball; they’ll be starting an inexperienced quarterback; and they’ll be facing a talented opponent that will be eager to atone for an underwhelming opening-game performance. Oh, it’s also an opponent that fields one of the nation’s elite defenses that features 10 returning starters.

Bottom line here: Although it definitely didn’t work last night with Pitt, I’m sticking with my theory of backing teams that have played a game vs. teams that haven’t—especially since Florida is the better squad and should be favored by at least a field goal. And note these technical trends that favor the Gators: They’ve won seven straight road-openers (all against SEC opponents!), and they’re 13-4-1 ATS when playing their first conference game of a season.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆

Thursday’s Result: Pitt +5 at Cincinnati (Loss)

Record: 41-36