The Only Sure Thing Is Betting Against UNLV

Rebels star wide receiver Devante Davis. | Photo courtesy UNLV Athletics

Rebels star wide receiver Devante Davis won’t be playing this week. | Photo courtesy UNLV Athletics


Fresno State -10 at UNLV
Auburn -3 at Mississippi State
UCLA +2.5 vs. Oregon
USC -2.5 at Arizona
Bears-Falcons OVER 53.5
Bills +3 vs. Patriots
Seahawks -8 vs. Cowboys

That loud smack you just heard was the hand of Vitouous, the Gambling God of Vengeance, slapping me back into reality. Just one week after boasting about a 6-1 effort to wrap up September, I kicked off October by giving it all back with a 1-6 stink bomb.

Sure, with a fortuitous bounce here and there—I just missed with the Bears, Rutgers and Tennessee—I could’ve produced a winning week. But near-hits don’t put bread on the table. Moreover, basking in the glory of the downfall of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots (as I did last week), only to watch Brady and the Patriots carve up the undefeated Bengals 43-17, doesn’t do anything for the ol’ credibility. (Neither does recommending a wager on Geno Smith and the Jets on the road.)

Then again, as bad as I was, if you were to rank the biggest disappointments from the opening weekend of October, I might not even crack the Top 10. On the college gridiron alone, five of the top-eight teams from last week’s Associated Press poll—No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Alabama, No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 8 UCLA—all lost. Furthermore, No. 14 Stanford fell as a short favorite at No. 9 Notre Dame; No. 15 LSU got blown out; No. 16 USC lost to Arizona State on a final-play Hail Mary; No. 17 Wisconsin was upset at Northwestern; and No. 18 and unbeaten BYU got blitzed by Utah State 35-20 (as a 21-point home favorite!).

Seriously, this college football season hasn’t just been crazy. It hasn’t even been batshit crazy. It’s been Ben Affleck’s wife in Gone Girl crazy! Get a load at this week’s AP poll: TCU (which knocked off Oklahoma) rocketed from No. 25 to No. 9; Arizona (which stunned Oregon) went from unranked to No. 10; Oklahoma fell seven spots to No. 11; Texas A&M slipped from No. 6 to No. 14; UCLA from No. 8 to No. 18; Stanford from No. 14 to No. 25; and LSU, USC, Wisconsin and BYU from ranked to “others receiving votes.”

The best example that the college football world has been turned on its head? Ole Miss and Mississippi are tied at No. 3 in the rankings. Read that again. Then remember we’re approaching mid-October!

The NFL has been equally confounding. Entering Week 6, no fewer than 18 teams are either 3-2, 2-3 or 2-2—that’s more than 55 percent of the league.

So what’s a handicapper to do to keep his bankroll above water while dog-paddling through this chaos? Answer: Unfortunately, kick the hometown team while it’s down. Do you realize UNLV’s only victory through six games is a 13-12 home triumph over Division I-AA Northern Colorado? Do you realize the Rebels have only covered the spread once—and that was only if you bet on them late (they went off as an 18-point ’dog in a 34-17 loss at San Diego State). And do you realize that all five of their losses were by double digits—with an average margin of defeat of 26.4 points?

Now UNLV is a 10-point home underdog against Fresno State, which is riding a three-game winning streak (both straight-up and against the spread). After allowing 52, 59 and 55 points in their first three games, the Bulldogs have surrendered just 16, 24 and 13 in their last three. Meanwhile, the Rebels—who once again will take the field without their most explosive player (wideout Devante Davis) or a competent quarterback—have scored more than 17 points just once … and given up fewer than 33 just once (to Northern Colorado).

Hey, try to see the glass as half full, Rebels fans: At least it isn’t homecoming week … oops!

Last Week: 1-6 (0-4 NFL; 1-2 college; 0-1 Best Bet).

Season Record: 19-16 (9-10 NFL; 10-6 college; 2-3 Best Bets).

Matt Jacob appears at 10 a.m. Fridays on’s First Preview on ESPN Radio 1100-AM and 98.9-FM.

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