If you happen to be a little strapped for cash, you might want to be on the lookout for Joe Public, the novice (which is a nice way of saying “clueless”) bettor who blindly backs big favorites, no matter the point spread. Joe Public is easy to spot these days, as he’s the guy strutting about town like Steve Wynn. The reason? Last week, college football teams laying at least 30 points and NFL squads favored by a touchdown or more went a ridiculous 15-4 against the spread.
It’s not supposed to be this easy for the betting community’s hoi polloi. Nor is it supposed to be this difficult for seasoned handicappers (most of whom make a living backing inflated underdogs).
Which brings me to Oregon. The No. 2-ranked Ducks are the biggest favorite on the board this week, laying 37 points at home. Not against Florida A&M or Bethune-Cookman. Not even against Nicholls State (whom the Ducks pummeled 66-3 in their opener). Nope, Oregon is a 37-point favorite against … California. As in Pac-12 rival California. As in the school Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers attended—the school that’s appeared in eight bowl games since 2003, winning five of them.
This can’t be, you say? Oh, it be, for several reasons: Oregon has crushed its first three opponents (Nicholls, Virginia and Tennessee) by the combined tally of 184-27, and the Ducks are on a 10-1 ATS run (including a 59-17 rout at Cal last November). Conversely, Cal has just one victory (against Portland State) and no spread-covers in its last eight games. And the Golden Bears couldn’t corral a pig in a phone booth (they allow 265 rushing yards per game and have surrendered 59, 62, 44, 30 and 52 points in their last five).
Still … a 37-point spread? Clearly, the bookmakers are begging for Cal money, and understandably so. Well, they’re getting mine. Because the Bears’ new up-tempo offense (33.7 points per game) is better than anything Oregon has seen to date. Because that offense won’t need directions to the end zone in the second half against the Ducks’ scrubs. And because the Oregon ATM has to run out of cash at some point … right?
Lucky Seven: Cal (+37) at Oregon (Best Bet); Toledo +3 at Ball State; Florida -13 at Kentucky; Bears-Lions OVER 48; Cowboys -2 at Chargers; Falcons -1½ vs. Patriots; Dolphins +6½ at Saints. Last Week: 1-6 (0-1 Best Bet). Season: 10-14 (7-5 college; 3-9 NFL; 0-3 Best Bets).
Says RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) of Pregame.com: Lay the points with the Saints. They’ve covered 11 straight at home under coach Sean Payton, and their new defensive scheme has exceeded all expectations. Yes, the Dolphins are 3-0, but they’ve been outgained in every game. Saints by more than a TD!
Matt Jacob appears Wednesdays on Pregame.com’s First Preview, which airs 10-11 a.m. weekdays on ESPN Radio 1100-AM.